New hope for cold cases
The popularity of genealogy websites seems to help law enforcement find answers to cases that are decades old.
Earlier this year, investigators found the suspected Golden State Killer who murdered more than a dozen people in a crime spree that began in the 1970s.
It was a DNA match from a genealogy website that ultimately led investigators to Joseph Deangelo.
Sarah Krebs is a Michigan State Police Sergeant. She is also the founder of Missing in Michigan, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families with missing loved ones, as well as supporting law enforcement in their efforts.
She says genealogy sites are changing the way law enforcement finds answers.
“It’s so new and so promising, but it’s so favorable. The cases I’ve seen solved because of it – unbelievable,” Krebs says.
Genealogy websites are gaining popularity with millions of people looking to learn more about their heritage and health.
In April, Krebs says, a case of 37-year-old Jane Doe from Ohio was resolved thanks to DNA and a public genealogy website.
“I think the more we use it, the more law enforcement agencies start to bring in internally .. it will become something that we do on a daily basis,” she says.
So far, Krebs says no Michigan case has been resolved using such a genealogy website, but she believes it is on the horizon.
She hopes to test it with an affair of 31-year-old Jane Doe, a young woman who Krebs says was dumped like a trash can on Harper Avenue in Detroit in 1987.
“Harper Jane Doe” throat had been slit. Her case is one of more than 300 Jane Doe and John Doe cases in Michigan.
Krebs says that a few years ago investigators were only able to obtain partial DNA, which was degraded.
She adds that the DNA they had was used up in an attempt to identify her.
The next step is to extract the mitochondrial DNA from its skeletal remains. When that happens, she hopes it can be tested with a genealogy site to see if there is a lead.
From there, we would have to do genealogical research.
Krebs says that Gedmatch.com, a free genealogy site, is what investigators in the Golden State Killer case used.
“It’s such a big reservoir of DNA. It makes our database look like nothing. It’s so exciting for us that we have an avenue that could potentially identify all of our cases,” she says.
If this DNA can be extracted from the skeletal remains in the “Harper Jane Doe” case, Krebs says they will also use Gedmatch.com because it is free, has such a large number of profiles and it has worked for others. police services.